recording of Freckles, by Gene Stratton-Porter.
Freckles is a young man who has been raised since infancy in a Chicago orphanage. His one dream is to find a job, a place to belong and people who accept him despite his youth and the disability of having only one hand. He finds this place in the Limberlost Swamp, as Mr. McLean's Limberlost guard of precious timber.
In the process, he discovers a love for the wilderness and animals he encounters every day on his rounds and a burning desire to learn about all the new birds and plants he sees on his rounds every day. He also finds and falls in love with a girl he calls the "Swamp Angel." This is the story of his plucky courage in sticking to his job in the swamp, and his adventures in learning about the natural world he finds himself in every day. He is befriended by the "Bird Woman" and with her help learns to love the Limberlost he has been hired to guard.
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June 7, 2013
Good, but kinda infuriating
This book is rich with loving descriptions of the Limberlost swamp, its old-growth forest, its birds and flowers and other wildlife, and of a young man falling in love with it. Very much worth listening to on that account.
On the other hand, the other side of this book is a sort of tired Horatio Alger story about an orphan rising in the world by being such a very good person (who is never ever misjudged by others, just so long as they are very good people like himself and also rich.) I think it will be more "fair warning" than "spoiler" if I inform you that he turns out to be the long-lost nephew of rich foreign aristocrats.
Still, it's the (mostly ignored) connection between these two sides of the book that is most infuriating. Freckles' rich and wonderful boss is a timber man, there to log the Limberlost. He's in the logging business *because he loves the woods* (and cutting them down gives him a socially acceptable reason to hang out in them.) By the end of the book, now-rich Freckles is looking forward to going into the business with him. By the way, the Limberlost is now pretty much gone, and at one point in the book a comment was made anticipating this future fact--and promptly forgotten. I want to shake these people and yell "You and your dangfool nineteenth-century attitudes are why we can't have nice ecosystems anymore!"
On the other hand, this is simply what you can expect from a nineteenth-century book, and the descriptions are amazing & there's lots to learn. So, four stars, listen to it, I just wanted to give you fair warning.